Looking for Condos for Sale in Florida?
The Complete Guide to Buying a Condo in Florida
Buying a condo in Florida is an excellent choice for first-time buyers, empty nesters, or anyone looking for a second home to use as a vacation house.
A condo, or condominium, is a residential complex with individually owned units. Florida condos perfectly balance renting an apartment or townhouse and owning a home. With a condo, you will still own your unit but will be less involved in home and landscape upkeep than traditional home ownership. Most condos also give you access to amenities such as pools, clubhouses, gyms, and tennis courts.
River Fly-In condos on Merritt Island offer a great location in the heart of Brevard County. With it’s unique location, nestled directly on the Indian River Lagoon, River Fly-In Condominiums is a perfect destination for anybody looking to own a condominium in Central Florida. It’s just a short drive to the world famous Cocoa Beach, and only an hour away from all of the attractions in Orlando. If you love cruises, you’re in luck, as Port Canaveral is also only a 20 minute drive away. If you love to golf, Brevard County is the perfect place for you, with one of the highest densities of golf courses in the entire United States.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through finding and buying a condo in Florida, giving you the knowledge and confidence to purchase the best vacation residence that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Reasons to Own a Condo
Owning a condo can be an excellent option for many people. Condo ownership offers a lot of benefits. Here are some of the top reasons to own a condo:
Condos are often more affordable than single-family homes because condo owners share land ownership, interest in the exterior areas, stairwells, and other community properties and amenities with all other condo tenants.
Condo alternatives like detached houses are more expensive because they allow you to own the land they are built on, but you will pay more for the land and have to do the maintenance on your own. On the other hand, the most luxury ownership option — mansions— comes with land and privately-owned luxury features, but they also have a luxury price tag.
Although renting an apartment may seem cheaper than buying a condo, owning is more affordable in the long run. Rather than paying rent in an apartment, you can build equity in your purchase with condo ownership. It also gives you total control over your home, so if you want to change decorations, fixtures, appliances, or layout, you are more than welcome to in a home that you own.
Condo owners often have access to top-tier community amenities. These include fitness centers, pools, and rooftop terraces. Some condos even have features like spas and tennis courts too!
Most amenities are absent in single-family houses because they are expensive to build and install.
For example, an inground pool can cost upwards of $50,000, depending on the shape, size, and materials used. This doesn’t even take into account the monthly maintenance costs associated with owning a pool.
With condo ownership, you won’t have to worry about maintaining any of the condo amenities on your own, and you can focus on just enjoying them.
Condo owners only have to worry about paying for interior repairs and maintenance out-of-pocket.
Anything outside your unit's interiors, including the siding and the building's structure, is the condo association's responsibility, so you don’t have to worry about doing any repairs or maintenance.
Rest assured that the board will repair and maintain exterior lighting, the roofing system, and outdoor amenities like hot tubs, sidewalks, trails, or walkways. For most condos, this also includes maintaining any lawns or landscaping around your unit, so you don’t have to worry about doing yard work either.
The HOA dues that you pay every month will cover common area expenses.
Most condos also come with ready-to-use appliances such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove already installed. They may also have central air units.
All you have to do is move into your unit; no need to shop for and move in heavy appliances. Since the condo is yours, you can take what they offer and purchase or replace anything you find outdated or missing.
Condos are often more secure than apartments, townhouses, and other alternatives. That is because condominium complexes have reputable security companies and quality security systems, alarm systems, and surveillance cameras to watch over the condo buildings, units, and occupants. They may also have access to control systems, intercom devices, security guards, and front desk teams to help ensure safety around the complex. They also must be inspected and approved by the local fire department, so you can rest assured that every precaution has been taken to ensure your safety.
4 things to know about the condo-buying process in Florida
Financial Aspects of Buying a Condo in Florida
Discovering the financial ins and outs of purchasing a condo is critical to making a smart decision. From determining its purpose (primary residence or vacation getaway) to considering property taxes, mortgage rates, and down payments, understanding these aspects will give you a clear picture of the costs involved.
Primary Residence vs. Vacation Home
A primary residence is a dwelling predominantly occupied by you and your family throughout the year, serving as your principal abode. In contrast, a vacation home is a vacation residence designated for recreational purposes, not intended for year-round habitation. Choosing between a primary residence and a vacation home hinges upon critical factors such as location, budgetary considerations, lifestyle preferences, and the associated tax implications.
When obtaining a mortgage for a second home or investment property, lenders tend to have more rigorous qualification criteria than they do for primary residences.
To secure a mortgage for a primary residence, you'll typically need a higher credit score, a large down payment, and a lower debt-to-income ratio. However, if you're looking to purchase a vacation home, you may be required to provide a higher down payment and have a better debt-to-income ratio.
Also, working with a specialized real estate agent can provide you with invaluable knowledge of the local market to locate the best deals and obtain guidance on suitable financing options for buying a vacation home or second home.
The average property tax rate in Florida is 0.83%, but the amount you'll pay depends on the specific location — including county and municipality — as well as the value of the condo.
It's essential to research property tax rates in the areas you're considering, as they can significantly impact your overall expenses.
Navigating HOA Fees and Responsibilities
You should also understand the homeowner's association's (HOA) fees and responsibilities when purchasing a condo. These fees cover the expenses of maintaining and repairing shared amenities and contribute to reserve funds and insurance payments.
Additionally, condo owners must comply with the regulations established by the HOA or condo board.
HOAs exist to help manage a community and its condo rules, as well as manage all shared amenities and upkeep. Their other job is to create a budget for amenities, reserve funds, and insurance. The fees you pay create the spending budget for an HOA's duties.
Every HOA is different. From its rules to its budget and the amenities the community offers, you may find each listing different. If you discover a condo development that you are interested in purchasing, make it a point to review the HOA first.
The health of a community can be assessed by looking at the HOA's budget, reserve fund, and how many residents are delinquent on their dues. Be wary if you notice warning signs such as a high delinquency rate, outstanding debts, or a low community fund. These are often indicators of poor HOA management.
You can also take a condo questionnaire to help you determine what the homeowner's association overlooks and provide information on delinquent condo owners. A condo questionnaire entails questions that will help you assess a condo community's health and financial stability.
Amenities and Community
Owning a condo gives you access to amenities such as:
- Tennis Courts
- Trash Pickup
- Pet-friendly play areas
- And More
You can freely use these amenities because your HOA fees pay for them. Having easy access to them also makes it easy for the HOA to host community events that can help you get to know your neighbors.
Joining the HOA or attending their meetings can also be a great way to get involved and feel like you are a bigger part of the community.
Insurances to Consider When Buying a Condo
Owning a condo still has some of the same risks associated with owning any other property, which means you may want insurance to help cover any potential issues. Insurance policies such as flood insurance and building maintenance coverage can provide protection against potential risks and help safeguard your investment.
Here are some of the different types of insurance you should consider when buying a condo in Florida and how they can benefit you as a condo owner.
Florida is known to be quite susceptible to hurricanes and heavy rainfall, so it is essential to get flood insurance when purchasing a condo within the state. Flood insurance protects your personal belongings from water damage and compensates for repairs or losses resulting from damage to the condo due to external water sources.
However, flood insurance does not cover damage caused by internal sources, such as a broken pipe or an overflowing bathtub.
Building Maintenance Coverage
Building maintenance insurance covers the cost of repairs and maintenance for the condo unit or building, including its structure, common areas, and shared amenities.
By obtaining building maintenance coverage, you're preserving your condo's value and keeping the building in excellent condition. Sometimes this is part of your HOA fees, but you will want to acquire it yourself if it isn't.
6 of the best places to purchase a condo in Florida
Florida is a diverse state with a variety of condo options to suit every taste and budget. Deciding the location where you want to buy a condo — whether you intend to use it as a primary residence, second home, or vacation home — is crucial. It is especially important if you plan to use the property as an investment, such as a second home or vacation home that you intend to rent out.
The availability of services such as healthcare centers, schools, roads, and public transport systems in an area can drive up the value of a unit. However, a cheaper property could be in an unsafe or noisy neighborhood, leading to an unpleasant living experience. So, it's crucial to explore the various locations before making a decision.
Merritt Island is a great place to buy a condo due to its unique features and convenient location. It is home to River Fly-In Condominiums, the only high-rise in the country with a neighboring landing strip, waterfront access, and a park.
The condos at River Fly-In blend modern sleekness with a tropical resort-like feel, creating a classic and impressive look that appeals to prospective buyers.
Merritt Island is ideally situated near Cocoa Beach, three different rivers (the Banana River, Indian River, and St. John River), the Space Center to the North (allowing residents to view launches from the high-rise), and Port Canaveral. Additionally, it is only a 60-minute drive from the vibrant city of Orlando, Florida.
This location is less susceptible to destructive hurricane conditions compared to other areas in Florida, which is the reason Brevard County is the home of NASA, Space-X, and Blue Origin. Its idyllic climate, with six months of temperate weather, three months of summer, and short winters lasting around twelve weeks, is another attractive feature.
River Fly-in Condominiums offer an array of amenities, including a beautiful clubhouse with a movie theater, workout room, sauna, and massage area. Nature walks on 30 acres of land, river access for residents, airplane hangars, a pickleball tennis court, and a beach volleyball court.
Captiva Island is an exclusive and luxurious destination, making it an ideal place to buy a condo for those seeking adventure and a secluded atmosphere.
The luxury offered on the island becomes even more enticing due to its natural surroundings and attractions.
Nature lovers will appreciate the opportunities for dolphin and wildlife cruises, magnificent sunsets, beachcombing, and kayaking.
Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach provide an excellent combination of riverfront living and numerous amenities, making them perfect for vacations and an adventurous lifestyle. While not a bustling metropolis, Fort Myers offers numerous attractions and activities one would expect in a city.
The city is also home to JetBlue Park, which hosts Boston Red Sox spring training games and is part of the Fenway South training and development facility.
Known for its gulf beaches and parks, Bonita Springs offers a blend of nature and luxurious living. The city's white-sand beaches are easily accessible and exude a subtle and quiet feel.
Bonita Springs is home to several tour-worthy and popular destinations, including the Barefoot Beach Reserve Park, Bonita Nature Place, and Everglade Wonder Gardens.
Naples is a sought-after beach community known for its wealthy community, making it an attractive place to buy a condo. It is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and boasts the second-highest number of six-figure earners per capita in the country. Naples is a great holiday destination and an excellent investment opportunity due to its affluent atmosphere.
Orlando, known for its proximity to Disney World, provides generally lower real estate costs than other city areas. Investing in a home in Orlando can be a great opportunity, as properties in the city are often in high demand and can be rented out to families and vacationers, generating income when the owner is out of town.
Types of condos
Beachfront Florida condos are popular for their breathtaking views, direct access to the ocean, and potential for a sound investment opportunity. Owning a beachfront property allows you to wake up to the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore and enjoy stunning sunsets from your balcony. These condos can serve as vacation residences for personal use or to generate rental income.
However, it's important to consider the associated costs and maintenance requirements. Property taxes, insurance, and HOA fees are factors to consider, and beachfront properties may require ongoing maintenance, such as repairs, landscaping, and pest control. By carefully evaluating the advantages and potential expenses, you can make an informed decision about purchasing a beachfront condo.
Golf Course Communities
Golf course community Florida condos offer a unique living experience, blending a love for the sport with luxurious amenities. Buying a condominium within a golf course community provides access to facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and reduced rates for golf courses. These communities often boast meticulously maintained surroundings, allowing residents to spend their weekends perfecting their swing and enjoying a refreshing dip in the pool.
However, be aware of the potential downsides. Noise from golfers and pesticide runoff from course maintenance are factors that should be considered. Evaluating both the advantages and drawbacks is crucial when deciding whether or not buying a condo in a golf course community is right for you.
For those who prefer Florida city life, urban condos are yet another attractive option. Purchasing a condominium in an urban area can be more cost-effective compared to buying a single-family home. With shared facilities and common area upkeep services, condo living provides convenience and a heightened sense of community. Urban condos also often come with amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and clubhouses. Services like on-site maintenance, security, and concierge services are also commonly available.
Living in an urban area grants access to cultural events and activities and the convenience of being situated near restaurants, stores, and other amenities.
A step-by-step guide for the Florida condo-buying process
The process of buying a condo involves several key steps:
Determine Your Finances
The process of buying a condo starts with determining your finances. Getting pre-approval from a financial institution to determine your budget and understand how much you can afford is crucial. This step will help you set realistic expectations and narrow down your search to condos within your price range.
Get Preapproved for a Mortgage
Before you start searching for a condo, it is recommended that you get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will demonstrate your financial readiness to sellers and increase your chances of securing the desired property. Preapproval involves providing the necessary financial documents to a mortgage lender beforehand, who will assess your creditworthiness and determine the loan amount you qualify for.
Choose the Right Location
Location is a crucial factor to consider when buying a condo. Research different neighborhoods and consider factors such as proximity to amenities, schools, transportation, and lifestyle preferences. Determine which areas align with your needs and preferences to narrow down your search and focus on those locations.
Find a Great Real Estate Agent
Working with a reputable real estate agent is essential when buying a condo in Florida. Look for an agent who has experience in the local market and specializes in condos for sale. They can guide you through the entire process, help you find suitable properties, negotiate deals, and provide valuable insights and advice. An agent can also help you create and sign a real estate sales contract.
Start House Hunting
Once you have your finances in order and a real estate agent by your side, it's time to start house hunting. Your agent will help you search for condos that meet your criteria and arrange viewings. Keep an open mind and view multiple properties to understand your preferences and prioritize your requirements.
Make an Offer
When you find a condo building that meets your needs, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will assist you in preparing a competitive offer and negotiating with the seller. Be prepared for a potential back-and-forth negotiation until both parties agree on the terms of the sale.
Inspections and Appraisals
After your offer is accepted, conducting inspections and appraisals is important. Hire a licensed home inspector to thoroughly assess the property and identify any potential issues. Additionally, an appraiser will evaluate the value of the condo to ensure it aligns with the agreed-upon purchase price. These steps are crucial to ensuring the condition and value of the property.
Close the Deal
Once all contingencies are met, you can proceed with closing the deal. Before closing, perform a final walkthrough to ensure the property is in the expected condition. Review and sign the necessary paperwork, pay the closing costs, and complete the transfer of title.
It is advisable to have your real estate agent and attorney present during the closing process to address any questions or concerns that may arise. Finally, conduct a final inspection of the home, test all appliances, and finalize the closing agreements.
By following these steps, you'll be well-prepared and equipped to navigate the process of buying a condo. Remember to consult with professionals, such as real estate agents and inspectors, to ensure a smooth and successful transaction.
The different condo options that River Fly-in — a top-rated condo building in Florida — offers to residents
River Fly-In offers four different floor plans and separate units to help match your needs. You can get the perfect Florida condo in Merritt Island, Florida, from River Fly-In.
Rolls Royce floorplan
The Rolls Royce floor plan has 3 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. It measures around 2,200 square feet and is located on the southeast corner of the River Fly-In condominium complex.
If you want 2 bedrooms, a study, and 2 bathrooms, the Lycoming floorplan might be right for you. This 1700 -1800 square foot property is located on the southeast corner of River Fly-In.
The Continental boasts 1600 -1700 square feet and offers 3 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. These are the end units on each wing of the building.
There are 10 Rotax floor plans on each floor that are 1300 -1400 square feet. The plan offers 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
Find Your Dream Florida Condo
Finding your dream condo in Florida is an exciting journey that requires careful consideration of various factors, such as types and locations of the condos for sale, financial aspects, insurance, HOA fees and responsibilities, and affordable alternatives. By understanding these aspects and working with a reputable realtor, you can make a well-informed decision and secure the perfect condo that aligns with your lifestyle and investment goals. Your dream Florida condo is waiting — take the first step today to become a condo owner!
Is owning a condo in Florida worth it?
Owning a condo in Florida can be a great investment opportunity due to its generally lower price point and potential for appreciation. The state also offers plenty of recreational activities and amenities, making the purchase of a condo in Florida an appealing option.
Why buy a condo in Florida?
Buying a condo in Florida offers the perfect combination of benefits, including access to amenities like pools, dog parks, and parking garages maintained by a homeowners association (HOA). Additionally, Florida provides convenient access to major cities, sunny weather year-round, and some of the best beaches in the world.
Should I buy a condo as a second home in Florida?
If you are buying a second home in Florida, a condo can be a great option. When purchasing a condo as a second home, it's important to understand the differences in down payment requirements, interest rates, and underwriting guidelines compared to buying a primary residence or an investment property. For conventional loans, the minimum down payment for a second home is typically 10%, and debt-to-income ratios may be slightly more restrictive. Additionally, FHA and VA loan programs are ineligible for second home purchases. It's recommended to consult with lenders to understand the specific requirements and differences in financing options for second homes.
Is a condo good for buying a vacation home in Florida?
Condos can be a good option for buying a vacation home, but additional factors must be considered. Vacation homes may have different tax consequences, financing options, and location-specific considerations, such as required insurance coverage, like flood insurance in coastal areas. It's important to check with lenders or bankers to understand how a condo purchase for a vacation home would work for your specific financial situation.
What is the difference between buying a condo vs a home?
Buying a condo is often more affordable than purchasing a single-family home, especially in densely populated areas where land is expensive. Condo ownership can offer more space for your money, with mortgage payments typically lower than those of a comparably-sized single-family home. Condo owners also benefit from cheaper insurance rates, as the homeowners association covers the exterior maintenance of the building. Condos also provide a more intimate community living experience with shared amenities, convenience, and fewer maintenance responsibilities. However, it's important to note that condos have different maintenance, fees, and insurance requirements compared to townhomes or single-family homes.